While President Obama's proposal to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan by 30,000 is taking heat from both Republicans and Democrats, Rep. Mike McMahon (D-Staten Island and Brooklyn) told Gothamist that he strongly supports the plan.
The first term Conressman — who replaced scandal-tarnished Rep. Vito Fossella — said sending troops to Afghanistan is necessary today because of the failures of the Bush administration. "The mission for America and its allies after 9/11 was to stabilize Afghanistan and destroy Al Qaeda to make sure that they never again do what they did to us on 9/11. Unfortunately, the prior administration let us down," said McMahon, who is a member of the House's Foreign Affairs Committee. "Now we are back doing the job that we had to do originally. I think that the president is correct in doing that."
Though Democrats have criticized Obama for committing further resources to the war and Republican have scorned him for announcing an exit date, McMahon says the President was right on both counts — arguing that the troop surge is imperative to keep American safe, while claiming that dispute about the end date is "a red herring" for political rivals who would otherwise support the plan.
McMahon emphasized the importance of maintaining stability in Pakistan and pressuring other countries including India and China — but also Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — to do more in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. He also sought to dispel any comparison between the situation in Afghanistan and the Vietnam War. "Although it feels similar, the historic parallels don't apply. The Vietcong were not using South Vietnam as a launching pad for world terror. If we allow Al Qaeda and the Taliban to take power again, then they will attack."